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Mobile III (CL-63)


A city in the southwestern part of the state of Alabama, located at the mouth of the Mobile River and at the head of Mobile Bay.



The third Mobile (CL‑63) was laid down on 14 April 1941 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 15 May 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Harry T. Hartwell; and commissioned on 24 March 1943, Capt. Charles J. Wheeler in command.

Following a Chesapeake Bay shakedown and a brief training cruise to Casco Bay, Mobile departed for the Pacific, arriving Pearl Harbor 23 July 1943 for a month of further training. On 22 August she sailed westward, joining TF 15 the following day for a raid on Marcus Island 31 August. She participated in two more carrier raids from Hawaii before joining the 5th Fleet for the Gilberts campaign. She screened the ships of TF 15 as the struck at Tarawa 18 September, and the ships of TF 14 hitting Wake 5 and 6 October. On 21 October she sailed west again in TG 53.3. By 8 November she was off Bougainville covering reinforcement landings. Thence she steamed to Espiritu Santo where she joined TG 53.7 for the assault and occupation of Tarawa. From the landings at Betio on the 20th through the 28th she remained in the area supporting the Marine assault forces as they fought the first vigorous beachhead opposition to an American amphibious landing.

On 1 December, Mobile was reassigned to TF 50 (Fast Carrier Forces, Pacific Fleet), the nucleus of what was to become TF 38/58. From the Gilberts this force moved north for air attacks on Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshalls. Thence the force returned to Pearl Harbor. Mobile continued on to San Diego, where she arrived and reported for escort duty to Amphibious Forces, 5th Fleet, 29 December.

Fifteen days later, sailing with TG 53.5, she began to make her way back to the Marshalls. Detached on 29 January 1944, Mobile, with other of CruDiv 13, bombarded Wotje and then rejoined their task force for the assault and occupation of Kwajalein Atoll. Until 6 February she performed fire support and carrier screening duties off Roi and Namur. She then proceeded to Majuro, where on the 12th she joined TF 58.

The mission of the fast carrier forces had by this time evolved into sealing off designated enemy‑held atolls and islands which the Allies intended to take and interdicting others to isolate and keep to a minimum Japanese resistance at the target. Now a third mission was to be added, the pounding of major enemy bases without the aid of land‑based aircraft, leaving little or no need for a return visit. Thus, to ease the occupation of Eniwetok and to aid in the encirclement of Rabaul, TF 58 departed Majuro and sailed for the Carolines. There, on the 16th and 17th, they devastated Truk, the best fleet anchorage in the Mandated Territories, the base of the Japanese combined fleet and the center for air and sea communications between Japan and the Bismarck Archipelago. The force then sailed northwest to the Marianas for strikes on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, encountering heavy aerial resistance there on the 21st and 22d. After a brief respite for replenishment at Majuro, Mobile sailed to Espiritu Santo where the ships of TG 58.1 were reorganized as TG 36.1, 12 March. On the 15th, they steamed northwest to cover Marine forces as they landed on Emirau in the Admiralties 20 March.

By the 24th, Mobile-s first anniversary, she had steamed over 70,000 miles and participated in 11 operations against the enemy. Three days later, her group once again became TG 58.1 and readied for further strikes on enemy installations. Between 29 March and 3 April they struck at the Palaus, Yap, and Woleai, returning to Majuro on the 5th. Next they supported Allied landings at Aitape, Humboldt Bay, and Tanah Merah Bay in New Guinea, and bombarded Wake Island and Sawar Airfield, 21 and 22 April. Thence they returned to the Carolines where they conducted air strikes on Truk and bombarded Satawan 29 and 30 April, hit Ponape 1 May, and then headed back to Majuro to replenish and rearm in preparation for the Marianas campaign.

On 6 June the carrier force sortied from Majuro again. By the 11th they were in the Marianas, striking at Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and Rota. From then through the 17th its planes and ships ranged from the Volcano and Bonin Islands to the southernmost Marianas supporting the assault on Saipan and preventing Japanese reinforcements from reaching that beleaguered island and the next target, Guam. On the 18th searches for a Japanese Fleet, reported en route from the Philippines, began to the west of the Marianas. The following day the Battle of the Philippine Sea opened with a Japanese carrier-based aircraft attack on the ships covering the Saipan assault. In the ensuing battle, Mobile continued her role as a guardian of the carriers, dispatching her Kingfisher planes often on antisubmarine and rescue missions, while planes from the carriers inflicted irreparable damage on Japanese aircraft strength and sank enemy carrier Hiyo on the 20th, bringing the number of Japanese carriers lost to three Shokaku and Taiho having been sunk by American submarines Cavalla (SS‑244) and Albacore (SS‑218) on the 19th.

Retiring from the area on the 23d, the carrier force proceeded to Pagan Island, against which strikes were launched on the 24th, and then made for Eniwetok. Thence, on the 30th, they departed for further strikes on the Bonin and Volcano Islands 4 July before turning south once again to continue coverage of the Marianas campaign. Commencing daily strikes on Guam and Rota 6 July, the force remained in the area until after the landings on Guam. On the 23d TG 58.1 with Mobile in the inner protective ring steamed southwest for raids in the Western Carolines. Three days later they pounded Yap, Ulithi, and Fais, while TG 58.2 and TG 58.3 hit the Palaus. On the 30th, TF 58 retired to Saipan, arriving 2 August.

Underway again the same day, they headed back to the Bonin and Volcano Islands. As carrier planes bombed enemy installations on Iwo, Chichi, Ani, and Haha Jimas 4 August, Mobile was detached with CruDiv 13 and DesDiv 46 to make an antishipping sweep in the Chichi Jima area. In the ensuing hours Mobile assisted in the sinking of one destroyer and a large cargo vessel. The following day she participated in the bombardment of Chichi Jima, and then set course for Eniwetok.

Mobile-s fast carrier group, now designated TG 38.3, began September with strikes on the Palaus, 6th to 8th, then sailed west, raiding Mindanao, 9th and 10th, and the Visayas, 12th and 13th. On the 15th, the group returned to the Palaus to cover the landings on Peleliu and Angaur. By the 18th the ships of TG 38.3 were headed back to the Philippines. On the 21st, the force's planes struck at the Manila area, and on the 24th swept the Visayas again.

The force sortied from Ulithi once again 6 October to pave the way for the upcoming Philippine operations. After the carrier planes had struck enemy installations in the Ryukyus, Mobile was detached with destroyers Gatling (DD‑671) and Cotten (DD‑669) to search for and destroy two enemy ships 30 miles distant from the force. Reaching the area, they discovered only one large cargo ship, the other vessel having been disposed of by several of the carrier planes. The three men‑of‑war quickly sank the cargo ship and rejoined TF 38 for strikes on Formosa and the Pescadores.

On the 13th, Mobile was again detached and with others of her division formed a screen around the damaged Canberra (CA‑70) and Houston (CL‑81), wryly designated, CripDiv 1. Mobile and her companions, playing up erroneous reports issued by the Japanese as to the degree of damage inflicted on "the defeated and fleeing" American force, hoped to draw out the Japanese in chase, so that the carrier task force could destroy them. With the discovery of the waiting American force by Japanese scout planes, orders were changed. Canberra and Houston were towed eastward for repairs and Mobile rejoined TG 38.3 on 17 October.

The next day the force cruised to the east of the northern Philippines and on the 20th guarded the northern air approaches to Leyte as American forces streamed ashore. For the next few days, strikes were conducted throughout the Visayas and on southern Luzon. On the 24th, TG 38.3 was attacked by planes from Vice Admiral Ozawa's Mobile Fleet as they stood by burning light carrier Princeton (CVL‑23). As the Battle for Leyte Gulf raged over the Philippines, TF 38.3 fought in the battle off Cape Engano on the 25th, then pursued the Mobile Fleet back toward Japan. Assigned to search for and destroy crippled enemy vessels and their escorts, Mobile aided in sinking carrier Chiyoda and destroyer Hatsuzuki, then turned south to rejoin the main body of TF 38.

For the next 2 months the cruiser continued to operate in support of the Philippine campaign, guarding the carriers as they sent their planes to cover Allied assault forces in the Visayas and on Mindoro. On 26 December she departed Ulithi for the west coast, arriving 16 days later at Terminal Island, Calif., for overhaul and alterations. Back at Ulithi 29 March, she continued an to Okinawa, arriving 3 April, 2 days after the initial attacks on that Japanese bastion. Assigned to TF 51, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, for the next 2 months, she provided fire support, served on antiaircraft and antisubmarine patrols and saw duty as a unit of "flycatcher" groups assigned to detect and destroy Japanese suicide boats before they caused any damage. At the end of May she arrived at Leyte where she joined TG 95.7, Philippine training group, with which she operated for the remainder of the war.

On 20 August, she cleared San Pedro Bay and headed north toward Okinawa and Japan for duty supporting the occupation. During September she conducted several cruises between Japan and Okinawa, transporting liberated POW's on the first leg of their return to the United States. The following month she cruised in the Sasebo area and on 18 November, with Marine Corps and Navy men embarked, she departed for San Diego. Arriving 2 December, she conducted another "Magic Carpet" run before steaming to Puget Sound for inactivation. Decommissioned 9 May 1947, she entered the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton and remained there, in reserve, until 1 March 1959 when she was struck from the Naval Register. She was sold for scrapping to Zidell Explorations, Inc., on 16 December 1959, and was towed away for scrapping on 19 January 1960.

Mobile received 11 battle stars for her World War II service.

Published: Wed Dec 09 18:19:33 EST 2020